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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-09-2012 08:10 AM
Re: Immersion Suits

As mentioned earlier in the thread, the full survival suits allow survival, but not too much else. They are quite bouyant and those gloves are almost like baseball mitts and there is no way one could press single buttons on any device. Here's a picture of me floating in freshwater in my suit (a Helly Hanson offshore coldweather suit, which I almost overheated in since the water I was in was warm)

12-09-2012 12:20 AM
Alex W
Re: Immersion Suits

Quality dry suits can be found for reasonable prices at the end of summer kayaking season around here. I was an active kayaker (and still enjoy it) so I have two dry suits. One was $600 used from a local outfitter (Kayak Academy), the other was about $300 in the return pile at Seattle REI and required a single patch. Both are Kokatat Goretex suits and I'm comfortable wearing them all day for multiple days in a row (and would do that while kayak touring). Retail on these are around $1000-$1400 depending on the options. Kokatat has the best warranty in the business and will service them for a long time, making it easy to get a decade out of one suit that has regular use.

This is a good time of year to try out your immersion gear and see how it works, at least in the northern hemisphere. With wool long underwear and a drysuit I'm good for about an hour in 40 degree water (colder than our local salt water) and PNW winter air. I've also used a two-part 7mm wetsuit (so 14mm of neoprene over my torso) in similar conditions while scuba diving and I was a lot colder. With the drysuit I had a lot more dexterity than I did with the wetsuit.
12-08-2012 07:14 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

I'm pretty cheap guy, I don't make much, and what I make I prefer to spend sailing. However, I have very expensive dry suit. It is my only piece of nasty weather protection. It is so universal. I can it wear it in about any condition. I use it to clear a bottom. I'm going to clear my boat's bottom tomorrow, and I'm in New York City. I use it while sailing. I used it while delivering Oceanis 43 to St Marteen last year through the storm Sean, I wearied it through storm Irene while sitting on my boat, I sailed many of the tough small boat races in one. the only annoying point is that the gaskets need replacement every two years.
12-08-2012 06:46 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

No experience with an immersion suit but used to dive for abalones off the Northern California coast with water temps in the low 50's. I wore a 1/4" full wet suit with a good hood and gloves. After fighting the surge and getting bashed on the rocks I got tired before I got cold. I could do a little over an hour and then had to rest. I also dove in Lake Tahoe in the winter time, water in the low 40's, and could stay in for an hour or so before my hands started to get numb. The wet suit may take a little longer to get into? I guess immersion suit are on the market for a reason?

Paul T
12-08-2012 06:13 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

The only thing I don't particularly like about the drysuits is that, as mentioned above, they do have tight openings. The neck opening particularly, if cut so it's really watertight, is very uncomfortable. It's like having a rubber band around your neck. Every time I've worn mine, it's a relief to get it off. They come with very small diameter openings. Unless you have a very small neck, wrists and ankles, they require careful cutting (directions come with the suit). They are certainly NOT one size fits all. The neck and sleeve rubber can be renovated when it wears out. Keeping them from drying out is the same as for any wetsuit or rubber product. The prices on these things has really skyrocketed as has any Goretex product.
12-08-2012 05:19 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

Modern dry/survival suits are made from gore-tex, they are light, waterproof and breathable.
they are easy to put on and off. In case of a hole, everything can be holed, there is a survival knife on a lifejacket, right? Just cut a leg off the suit.
They also cost more than a small lboat, it is why we still see these bulky last century neoprene suits....
Musto HPX Offshore Dry Suit | Musto Foul Weather Gear | Musto Sailing Gear
I wearied one below for 25 days, i survived
Kokatat | GORE-TEX® Expedition Dry Suit - Men - Dry Suits - Products
12-08-2012 02:05 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

We used to do a lot of early spring whitewater kayaking/canoeing, Even a full 1/4" wetsuit only keeps you warm for a short time in 30+ degree water. I've had to pull people out of the river who literally could not move anymore with wetsuits on. Drysuits are a much better option nowadays. If contemplating getting into the liferaft in cold water, I would certainly opt for the drysuit with plenty of fleece underneath. They probably would not keep you alive for as long as a survival suit in cold water but would allow complete movement which is probably very important in the case of being in a liferaft. They are also not bulky and are easily stowed, unlike survival suits which are pretty bulky. I have an older version of the Kokatat dry suit which I bought originally for sea kayaking and now goes in my ditch bag.
12-08-2012 01:43 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
......Anyone knowledgeable about SCUBA may be able to comment about how long he might have been in the water and what kind of suit would allow him to remain in the water that long...
Very cold water diving is done in a dry suit, which has seals around the wrists and neck that prevent water from entering at all. Well, it may get damp.
Typically, these suits are made of a thin material and one wears insulation beneath. They do make crushed neoprene versions, but the insulation just gets lighter.

Water will conduct heat off your body at an incredible rate, so just staying dry has a huge impact. However, for any length of time, one needs insulation as well.

They do make immersion suits with these same dry seals, but they must be trimmed to fit your specific neck and/or wrist size or they will either choke you or leak. That's why you don't find them as generic suits.
12-08-2012 01:01 PM
Re: Immersion Suits


When I was young, which I realize is about the same time John Paul Jones joined the Navy, I frequently dover under the ice at Beaver Dam Quarry, which is now Beaver Dam Swim Club. The only protection we had back then was a 3/16-inch thick wet suit. We were good for about 30 minutes, then the cold set in. I later went to a 1/4-inch wet suit, which added about 15 minutes to the time. Of course, I was young and dumb at that stage of life, but the suit did a great job. A few years later I tried the same dive with a dry suit over the wet suit, added another 15 minutes, taking the total dive time to an hour. Ironically, the water was warmer once we got below 25 feet, but only a few degrees. The thermocline essentially reverses during the winter months.

The coldest dive I took was while stationed aboard ship in the North Atlantic near Oslow, Norway. After just 15 minutes in the water wearing a Mark5 rig and full suit I thought I would freeze to death. Checking the zincs on the ship is a routine job that I did monthly, and beieve me, it could be a nasty, dangerous job.


12-08-2012 12:55 PM
Re: Immersion Suits

They are large so that they are relatively quick and easy to get into with your clothes on (emergency). They will keep you afloat, and prevent hypothermia for quite a long time. We carry them on both boats, and I also have a 7mm wet suit and scuba gear on the sailboat in case I need to dive. Our water never gets much above 50F so you are only going to live about 30 long, miserable minutes if you go in without a gumby suit on. They've never won any fashion shows.
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